Power On

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 9, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

2494500294_284df5e1e7_z

As the position evaluation moves on, we land at the power forward spot. Needless to say, the Mavs haven’t had to worry about filling this position in terms of a starter for an entire season for a long time. Dirk Nowitzki remains the franchise. If all goes well, Dirk will likely retire a Maverick when the time is right. The good news in that situation is that possibility still seems further down the road.

Dallas has had Shawn Marion become the ultimate security blanket for them as he’s been able to move up and fill the backup power forward position for the team over the last couple of years. They also took a chance and gave Brandan Wright more of an opportunity to play at that position. With Dirk firmly established as the starting power forward, it’s worth looking at how the team is in terms of depth behind him.

Summing it up:

The guys did an admirable job doing what they could while Dirk was out for the first portion of the season. Dallas had quite a few options to work with in terms of backups. As it was mentioned above, they had Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright log minutes behind Dirk. Wright logged time as the backup center, but they found certain lineups that allowed the lanky big man to slide down to the four spot.

It was actually surprising that the Mavs went ahead with playing Wright at that spot. When he joined the team prior to the 2011-12 season, he said he felt more like a power forward than a center and Rick Carlisle immediately said afterwards that they envisioned him being solely a center.

It wasn’t sunshine and daffodils the entire time, though. For a brief time, try 81 minutes, they tried Elton Brand as the power forward next to Chris Kaman. Those two worked together well when they played together for the Los Angeles Clippers between 2003 and 2007. It didn’t necessarily work in 2012 as the combination was a -26 in their time together.

What do they need?

First off, they need Dirk to stay healthy. It starts and ends with him being ready to go for as many games as possible. There’s been a question that’s lingered over the last 5-7 years when it comes to the backup power forward position. Do you go with someone who operates closer to the rim at the power forward position or do you go with a stretch 4? The Mavs certainly tried to go with the stretch 4 when they brought Troy Murphy into the mix. Remember him?

If the Mavs intend on bringing Brandan Wright back, I doubt it’s with the primary intention to back up the team’s best player. He can operate in that position, but they probably want to continue their development with him as part of a platoon at the center position. If they could establish another three-headed monster at that position, that would be ideal.

If Wright is coming back, it would probably be ideal to have more of a physical presence backing Dirk up. It’s not that Wright is soft or anything, but he’s not going to be confused with a bodybuilder. What makes him dynamic as a player is his size and mobility. It only makes sense to match that up with someone who will be physical and battle in the trenches.

The free agent pool isn’t that stacked for talent in that position, at least not in the form of a cheaper backup power forward. The draft could be a route the Mavs look at replenishing that position. That being said, it’s not incredibly likely that they would find a power forward to eventually groom into Dirk’s spot. It’s not like they would necessarily want to do that either since both Dirk and the franchise believe that he has more than a year or two left of prime basketball left in him.

If the pieces work out, they’re likely hoping that they can bring Wright back, and have him as a third option behind Shawn Marion.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

The Best of Both Worlds

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 3, 2013 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

2439220850_1602016c20_z

Do you need superstars to succeed? That is the question.

Outside Dallas’ magical one-superstar title run in 2011, many of the champions of the past decade have been littered with teams with more than one superstar or one with a platoon of super role players.

There is a team that emerged this season that had me wondering if they had a blueprint that the Mavs might want to look in to. That team was the Denver Nuggets. They were the most unrecognized team to have a 13-game winning streak in the history of the NBA. Unfortunately, they were streaking as the Miami Heat went on what turned out to be a 27-game winning streak. Miami had the second longest winning streak in NBA history, only surpassed by the Lakers’ 33-game winning streak in the 1971–72 season.

Read more of this article »

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 2, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

8432755360_4757cdbc6b_z

Looking over Quoteboards allows you to refresh your memory over buzz comments that were made. There’s one that has stuck in my mind and has me wondering.

This is what Mark Cuban said when the front office has to decide the worth of perspective free agents versus years and money and deciding whether or not to pursue:

“We don’t try to win the summer. We don’t try to say okay, we’re going to give a guy a lot of money. He’s got to be worth the money. There are guys that are team difference makers and none of these guys that you’ve mentioned (like Goran Dragic) went to a team and that signed as a free agent and turned them around.  What kind of impact would he have on your team? End of story. That’s it. How many games can he win me, if at all? If he’s not going to be a difference-maker why would you do it (sign him to a lengthy contract)?

“I have to look at Donnie and Rick. Donnie’s going to say don’t do it and Rick’s going to say don’t do it. I’m going to say to Donnie, should we do it? And he’ll say no. Teams sign guys all the time that they end up having to get rid of all the time. And it’s just a different animal when you’re trading for him and you get off a guy and you have to take bad contracts to get a good contract. We’re wide open for whatever puts us in a position to get a difference maker and if we can’t then we’ll deal with whatever it is.”

Read more of this article »

Looking Back in Anger

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 29, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

237921859_ed462dcffc_z

After a week of recharging the battery, it’s back to work. It’s certainly different not covering a team during the playoffs. Even if the Mavs snuck in as the 8th seed in the West, a direct path to another 4-0 sweep would still have them playing around this time.

Before tackling the challenges of what to do this summer and going forward, it’s worth looking back and getting a little flustered when looking back at the games that slipped away from the Mavs. There are 10 games that really could’ve changed the course for Dallas. If they win just five of the 10, they likely find themselves in the playoffs.

Let’s look back, and get weird.

Read more of this article »

Audio Delight

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 25, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

176867465_4b6f7b8cf1_z

Episode 74 of the Mavericks Outsider Report is here.

For those who don’t know, MOR a podcast entirely devoted to your Dallas Mavericks.

The end of the regular season passes without a Mavericks playoff game for the first time since 2000. It’s already time to move on from this season and look ahead to what the Mavericks can do to make sure this year is just a minor bump in the road.

But first, we want to cover Rick Carlisle’s entertaining post-game O.J. Mayo commentary, and the thoughts shared by Mark Cuban following the team’s mathematical elimination from the playoff picture. Then, we look forward by pulling out the oldest segment we have – Buy, Sell, Hold – to run through Mavericks’ free agents and possible free agent acquisitions. The end result shows that there are more holes to fill than money to spend. We take a quick run through the playoffs in NBA Nuggets, and we close with some talk about Lamar Odom and VIP floor tickets.

Intro – Banter / Rick on OJ
22:45 – Cuban’s Concession Speech
42:10 – Buy, Sell, Hold (Current Mavs)
1:03:25 – Buy, Sell, Hold (Potential Free Agent Signings)
1:28:35 – NBA Nuggets, Playoff Edition
1:24:08 – Yelling at Lamar Odom from Baller Seats / Closing Thoughts

Catch us again shortly after the draft in June as we have our “Judgement Day” episode. We’ll have the Mavs Jedi Council in the house to really dig in and figure out if Dallas made the right move(s) during the draft, and is prepared for the pivotal summer that is staring them directly in the face.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

The Rundown, Volume XX

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 22, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

8643068142_cfa2b0b42b_z

The Rundown is back. Every Monday during the regular season (unless there’s a better feature to run with), The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavs, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

The end is here. The 2012-13 season for the Dallas Mavericks is officially over. There is some solace that the Mavs were able to finish the season with a record of 41-41. They became the 13th team in NBA history to be 10 games below .500 in a season and finish at .500 or better. The most recent team to achieve that feat before the Mavs was 2010-11 Philadelphia 76ers. The last Western Conference team was 1980-81 Portland Trail Blazers.

That’s a great accomplishment for a team that looked dead in the water back in December and January. That being said, there’s a lot of work to be done this summer for the Mavs if they want to get back to where they were just two years ago. They don’t need to be the number one overall seed in the Western Conference, but they need to get into a spot where they’re not having to scratch and claw just to have a chance to make the playoffs. There will be plenty of time to dissect what the Mavs can do this summer to fix what is ailing them. For now, let’s just look at what exactly happened this season.

Read more of this article »

Thermodynamics: The 2012-2013 Season

Posted by Travis Wimberly on April 21, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Black hole

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

And with that, the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks will ride off into the sunset.

Sixteen NBA teams will play on, but the Mavs’ season is over. It wasn’t exactly a ceremonious ending, but it could have been worse. The Mavs closed out the year exactly at .500 (41-41), tallying their final win ever against the New Orleans Hornets Pelicans.  In the process, they became the first Western Conference team in over three decades to finish at .500 or better after being 10-plus games below that mark at any point during the season. That says something (although I’m not sure exactly what).

In honor of the season’s end and the final 2012-2013 installment of Thermodynamics, this week’s column will be a little different. Instead of the usual “weekly recap” approach, this one will address the three hottest and coldest performances for the entire season. For each item on the list, I’ll include one of the first things I wrote about that player from early in the year, and we can see how those initial impressions line up with the player’s season-long outlook.

Off we go…

FIRE

1) Brandan Wright

“Last season [2011-2012], Brandan Wright was a very serviceable rotation-caliber big man. This year, he will move well above that status, if the first two games are any indication.” – Thermodynamics: Week 1 (Nov. 1, 2012)

Those first two games were an indication, indeed.

Like countless Mavs observers, I spent the early part of this season perplexed by Rick Carlisle’s handling of Wright. Even accounting for Wright’s weaknesses, there was never any real justification for him to ride the pine for long stretches in favor of 2012 Troy Murphy. Yet as the year went on, Carlisle grew more and more comfortable with Wright. The 25-year-old big man began to rebound and defend better (although he still has significant room for improvement), all while the Mavs’ mounting playoff desperation necessitated Carlisle’s compromise.

As many of us suspected, Wright turned to be one of the Mavs’ most efficient and productive players, effectively showcasing his potential as a long-term piece for the Mavs. He also drove up his free-agent asking price in the process, but Dallas has cap room aplenty, which if nothing else will give Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson room to mull over a competitive offer. I consider him a top priority for this offseason. It would be foolish to let him walk unless another team wants to drastically overpay him (which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility). Wright is already a highly efficient offensive player, and he has plenty of upside to boot. It’s hard to ask for more.

Read more of this article »

Closing Remarks, Part Seven

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 19, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

dirk

There’s not a great way to classify Dirk’s 2012-13 campaign. It started with the incredible personal highlight of being able to play in Germany in an exhibition game. Concern then started to circulate as he had issues with his knee, which ultimately led to surgery. He missed more than a quarter of the season due to the surgery. When he came back, he had doubts about whether or not he could actually return to the form everyone is used to seeing from him. The doubts eventually went away as he swagger returned. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time for Dirk to help get the Mavs into the playoffs.

A pivotal summer is on the horizon for the Mavs. Dirk will be ready to do whatever he can to help the franchise get back to the playoffs and make this year more of an aberration than the new expected norm.

Here is the final exit interview of the season. Here is Dirk Nowitzki’s exit interview.

Read more of this article »

The Agony of Average

Posted by David Hopkins on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

average_hopkins

“…On my word, we’ll trouble you no more.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

In March, I spoke with ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM about the Dallas Mavericks. During that segment, I said something to the effect that the Mavs are “a 500 team, but 500 won’t be good enough to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference.” Nailed it. They were .500 exactly with 41 wins and 41 losses. It’s the first time in franchise history that they’ve had a .500 win/loss percentage for a season. But what does 500 mean?

If we were to add up all the games this season as if it were one single game, the Mavericks were outscored by opponents 8,342 to 8,293. I don’t know if this number is all that significant, except to indicate that, on average, the Mavs losses had a greater point differential than their wins. Sure, the Mavs had some close games. But from this season, those blowouts are going to be what I remember most. When a game got out of control, the Mavs just couldn’t put on the brakes, couldn’t stop the bleeding. Use whatever metaphor you want.

Ever since the western dominance of the NBA, around the time when Michael Jordan retired, Shaquille O’Neal moved to Los Angeles, and the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, the question has persisted: is a Western Conference record worth more than an Eastern Conference record? When the Mavs play powerful Western Conference teams more often than lowly Eastern Conference teams, doesn’t that count for something? Keep in mind, five Western teams have 50 plus regular season wins. In the East, there are only two. At 500, the Mavs would’ve made the playoffs in the East—pushing out Milwaukee. Of course, this is price the Mavs pay for being in a better, more competitive conference.

Read more of this article »

Closing Remarks, Part Six

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

carlisle

Though the team’s record was 41-41, many would say that this year was one of Rick Carlisle’s best coaching performances of his career. He had to endure over a quarter of the season without his best player and found a way to make sure his team never quit. Carlisle had to balance the juggling act of a roster that was in flux and it was a roster that easily could have turned on him with new contracts on the horizon. That said, they didn’t turn because the coach never gave in.

It was a year of work for Rick Carlisle. The results didn’t bear any fruit, but it’s not due to his negligence. The summer begins early for him, with potentially a new set of issues he’ll have to prepare for. Dirk Nowitzki might be the best on-the-floor asset the Mavs have, but Rick Carlisle is truly an asset that should not be taken for granted.

Here is the exit interview with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.

Read more of this article »